From renowned food critics to celebrity chefs to restaurant patrons, there is a unifying consensus regarding the source of the world’s best food: Mom. When asked about their choice for a death row meal, most people will name a dish that only their mom truly makes perfectly. My mom’s meatloaf may taste under-seasoned to you, but that’s because your mom makes hers entirely differently—and somehow those first meals are the ones that stick with and comfort us in the long run. It’s difficult to duplicate the taste of home because home tastes different for everyone. In honor of Mother’s Day, I’ve asked three local moms to share their favorite kid-tested recipes. Maybe you’ll be inspired to make some of your own food memories.
Megan, Brendan and Carter
Megan and her boys love to spend time with each other in and out of the kitchen. I asked them what they like about cooking Fried Spaghetti, their favorite dish, together.
Megan: “I love that my boys like to cook; sometimes they don’t even need my help. They like to make breakfast and dinners. I am a lucky mom.”
Brendan: “I like to cook this with my mom. She lets me make most of the dinner by myself. I get to cut up all the vegetables with my knives I got for Christmas. Then I fry everything up and mix it together.”
Carter: “I don’t mind helping my mom cook, but I’d rather just eat what Brendan and Mom make for dinner.”
Megan: “This is one of our favorite recipes. We just took a little bit of everything we had in the fridge and threw it together, and it turned out to be one of our favorite dinners. Sometime we will even add a little bit of heavy cream and make a white sauce.”
Angel hair pasta
Boil pasta till cooked, then chop up all the veggies and bacon. In a medium frying pan, start to cook the chopped-up bacon. Once the bacon is almost cooked add the veggies, except for the tomatoes.
While the veggies are cooking, drain the pasta. In a large frying pan heat up some olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the pasta. Fry the pasta for a few minutes, then add the cooked veggies, bacon and tomatoes. Once everything is mixed up, sprinkle the cheese on top and toss until the cheese melts in the pasta. Divide into bowls and serve.
Jenny and Grace
Due to a genetic predisposition, Jennifer DeFranco makes sure to keep Grace on a low-gluten diet. Their Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese is a tasty and healthy crowd-pleaser.
Grace: “I love to cook with Mommy because it always smells so good in our kitchen and she has the best recipes.”
Jenny: “ I love to cook with Grace. She is so much fun to be around, my best critic and my inspiration. I created this recipe a few years ago when I turned to a gluten-free diet. I have yet to find a kid or even the pickiest of eaters that will not devour this dish! It’s an easy mac ‘n’ cheese recipe that can be made any night of the week, can be spruced up with a variety of cheeses and/or also be baked with a Parmesan gluten-free breadcrumb crust to give it that old-fashioned flair—and kids enjoy grating cheese! If you’re unsure which brand to buy, I have tested many varieties of gluten-free pastas over the past few years, and the best in my opinion is Quinoa’s Ancient Harvest. It cooks easily, keeps its structure and generally is hard to tell from semolina or durum pastas once doctored up.”
Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese
1 box of gluten-free wlbow pasta cooked al dente—about seven minutes.
2 tsp. Coleman’s dry mustard
2 T Cabot salted butter
1 1/2 T cornstarch
2/3 C organic 2% milk
8 oz. grated cheddar cheese
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl or a large measuring cup, mix the cornstarch and milk well, then put aside. In the same pot you made the cooked pasta (preferably a four-quart pot) over medium-low heat, add the butter and dry mustard, whisking together as if to make a roux (butter/flour mixture) for approximately one minute. When completely incorporated and the butter starts to bubble, give milk mixture a quick stir to pull cornstarch from the bottom, and whisk into pot. Add bay leaves, a pinch of pepper and grated cheese, whisking together to make the cheese sauce. Turn off heat, add cooked gluten-free pasta and stir until noodles are coated with cheese sauce. Voilá! Homemade mac ‘n’ cheese.
Ila and Madison
Ila and her daughter Madison look alike and act alike, and they both love food, fishing and dressing up.
Madison: “I love to cook with my mom because it’s fun and my mom is cool. We laugh with each other. I like how she teaches me how to cook new things. We both like country cooking like pork chops. She makes me laugh and I love her so much!”
Ila: “Spending time with Madison is always the most fun part of my day, but when we cook together that’s the best quality time.”
Crab Pasta Salad
Hidden Valley ranch dressing
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta (not al dente and not over-cooked—-it just has to be perfect). Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. The add the crab, mayo, ranch dressing, salt, pepper and celery. It has to Hellman’s mayo and it has to Hidden Valley ranch. Put it in the fridge for two hours and then add more mayo and more ranch. Put it in the fridge for two more hours and then serve.